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An Interview with Multidisciplinary Artist Sumit Mehndiratta

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An Interview with Multidisciplinary Artist Sumit Mehndiratta

At this current moment, artist Sumit Mehndiratta has exactly 228 available works of art listed on The Artling, making him one of the most active artists who we represent. It’s also no wonder that he is one of the most popular, with works making their way into homes of private collectors and corporate offices around Asia and the world. Perhaps his popularity is down to his vast practice. Mehndiratta actively experiments across all mediums, from painting to printing to photography - he’s even tried his hand at wall-sculptures and using thread to make works of art. 

We decided to find out a little more about this New Delhi-based artist. For more on his evolution to being an artist, the most challenging artwork he’s ever produced, and a little insight into the studio life of a successful multidisciplinary artist, read on: 

Kioris, Archival ink print on canvas. 

For those who aren’t familiar with you, tell us a little about your artistic journey. As someone who graduated with a Masters in Fashion Marketing, what made you decide to be an artist?

My artistic journey started with photography. My father got me a Sony Digicam for my 16th birthday and I started to take pictures of flowers and objects. As I grew older, artistic pleasures were ignored and I started focusing more on my studies, unsure of what I wanted to study. I’m a creative person, so I thought marketing could be my field and I was quite drawn to the fashion industry. Thus, I opted for a Masters in Fashion in the UK. I was studying in my campus library when I saw a book of shoe sketches by Manolo Blahnik, a famous Spanish shoewear designer. I was obsessed with his sketches of stiletto pumps and couture footwear. I was immediately drawn to it and started sketching stilettos and high heeled shoes. I must have sketched at least 100 new designs in a matter of 2 months, before focusing back on my studies.

I came back to India in late 2008 and there was a recession in my country. There were no jobs available and I was without a job for an entire year. In this year, I started to paint, sketch and discover a lot more with art materials - I started to have a lot of fun. The art that I came up with wasn't all bad either. I started getting good responses from family and friends and my father helped me opening a small studio in Delhi’s prime art oriented market called Hauz Khas where I would paint, showcase and sell my works to the public. It turned out to be a complete disappointment and in 2011 I decided to shut it down as I had incurred losses. From there the only way I looked to sell my art was through online art galleries, and since 2012, I have been uploading my works on websites which are now the online giants of the art industry like The Artling.

Untitled No. 114 , Indian ink on archival paper

Your practice ranges from paintings to prints, to sculptures. What medium do you find yourself most comfortable with and why?

If we are speaking of comfort, then no technique of mine is comfortable for me. In fact, I jump away from the techniques with which I get too comfortable with. I've seen unexpected (good) things happen outside the comfort zone and that's exactly what I do. I consider repetition also similar to being comfortable. You know you’re good at one thing, but what about other things that you can possibly do better than what you’re already good at?

 

It’s clear from your works that you find inspiration from just about anything and everything. What would you say has been the biggest inspiration when making your works?

Abstraction is one of my biggest inspirations. The world is full of things that make sense, and for once I’d like to see something beautiful without any meaning behind it. Just seeing something beautiful without any interpretation is one of my main inspirations to do what I do.

Untitled No. 108, Acrylic paint on unprimed canvas 

Who were the artists you looked to when you first started your practice, and who are the artists you look up to now?

When I first started, I looked up to some famous Indian contemporary artists like S.H. Raza. I also admired works of abstractionists like Jackson Pollock, Georgia O'Keeffe, Wassily Kandinsky, Salvador Dali and so many more whose names I can't remember. Then, I started looking at contemporary artists such as Jeff Koons, Damien Hirst, Ai Weiwei and many many more. I go through so many artists works during the days that I can’t remember the names at all.

 

You are incredibly active at making new works, with over 250 works listed with us on The Artling. Do you ever face artist’s block? To give some advice to the artists out there, what do you do to get past it?

Honestly, I’ve never been through an artist’s block, and I’m not sure if I even fully understand what it means. I do take vacations every now and then to get out of my home where I work and live but never really gone through a block. When I love what I do, why would there be a block? Maybe my way of recovering from a block (which I’m not sure of) is jumping into doing something different in art, something unexpected of me which motivates me to do more. I’m not sure I’ll have to dwell deeper into this.

Untitled No. 107, Acrylic paint on unprimed canvas

With so many artworks across so many mediums, your studio must be an incredibly dynamic place. Do you ever find yourself running out of room to store them?

My studio is a mess! It's the exact replica of my mind. Hundreds of things and ideas scattered all over the place. In one corner I’m making thread work sculptures and in the other corner, I’m painting with oils and acrylic. Colors flying everywhere, art materials stacked on top of each other, open paint jars, and so on. It is chaotic. Yes, I am running out of space to store my items. My home has become almost like a storage unit and I have been thinking of getting a room constructed to stock my works.

 

What’s the most effort you ever went through to produce an artwork?

This year I commissioned three, 3 by 10-foot thread work sculptures, for the Four Seasons in the Middle East. It was a lot of work and I developed an upper-back slipped disc because of it. It meant that I had to stop doing thread works for a while. Two of them are also listed on my Artling page.

Nailed it Series No. 91, Nails, silk thread and acrylic paint on wooden panel

Nailed it Series No. 104, Nails, silk thread and acrylic paint on wooden panel

 

Lastly, where do you see yourself and your practice in 10 years time?

10 years is a long time. The maximum I can foresee for myself is 2 to 3 years, where I want to be doing exhibitions in Asia such as Tokyo, Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea, and Taipei.

 

If you enjoyed Sumit Mehndiratta's works featured in this interview, why not click here to explore more? 
To read more interviews by The Artling Artzine, click here


Any views or opinions in the post are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the company or contributors.



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